The Art of Reflection

Had I seen this image with no explanation and no more context than its leafy background, I suspect I might have found identification difficult, even though I’ve encountered the object in the past under quite different conditions.

But seen from a longer perspective, with its shadow reflected on its well-buffed surface, it would have been unmistakable. Once you’ve seen the trunk of this magnificent tree, you don’t forget it. 

The shadow cast across the lawn near the entrance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was produced by this Roxy Paine sculpture titled Yield. I saw it first in autumn: shadowless, stark against a gray sky, and surrounded by nearly leafless trees.

During my recent visit, it seemed warmer, and more welcoming. The greening grass reflected in its highly polished surface made it seem as though Paine’s tree had itself taken root, and soon would leaf out.

It won’t, of course, but that hardly matters. Shimmering in the early summer sunlight, it stands as a reminder that second, third, or even tenth looks at any piece of art can be as rewarding — and as surprising — as the first.

 

Comments always are welcome.

 

That Montana-Missouri Connection

Yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius)

The size of the seedheads bobbing about in a ditch near the entrance to Burr Oak Woods conservation area in Blue Springs, Missouri made clear I’d found something other than an ordinary dandelion. From three to five inches in diameter, their gleaming fluff begged to be identified.

Identification turned out to be easier than I could have imagined. As I began catching up on blogs after two weeks of travel and family time, I discovered a similar puffball in a post from Montana Outdoors, together with a photo showing yellow salsify in bud and in flower. Eventually, I learned that the plant, originally from Europe, sometimes is called goatsbeard, but that risks confusion with yet another goatsbeard — Aruncus dioicusthat’s part of the rose family and which also (somewhat oddly) is known as bride’s feathers.

Intrigued by the coincidence, I wondered which other spring wildflowers Montana and Missouri might share. As if on cue, Terry followed up his post of the salsify with photos of a flower called self-heal. The examples I found scattered throughout Missouri and Arkansas seemed nearly at the end of their bloom, but they remained interesting and attractive.

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) at Missouri’s Diamond Grove Prairie
Self-heal seen from above in the Ouachita mountains of Arkansas

Only a few days before, Terry had posted photos of a Montana native: the Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). While that wild rose doesn’t overlap with Missouri’s native pasture rose, their appearance is similar, and the delight of their flowers surely is equal.

Beyond that, Rosa carolina also is listed as present in a few far northeastern counties of Texas, as well as in Kerr and Gillespie counties, which I occasionally visit. Next spring, I’ll make it a point to seek out this native rose closer to home.

Pasture rose (Rosa Carolina) at Missouri’s Diamond Grove Prairie

Certainly I expected to find at least a few unfamiliar wildflowers during my recent travel, but discovering these Missouri-Montana connections provided an extra dollop of delight.

Comments always are welcome.

 

Taking The Slow Road

Immature white ibis (Eudocimus albus) taking in the sights at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge

During the past week, as I puttered and poked along the back roads of Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, I found myself pondering the travel habits of the ibis.

Though graceful in flight, ibis seem equally willing to indulge in the pleasures of ground travel. As they wander along roads and through fields — sometimes foraging, sometimes not — it’s easy to imagine them out for a stroll, or indulging in some avian version of follow-the-leader.

  Mature white ibis seem to prefer nursing home lawns and yacht clubs

Their steady but unhurried gait, their willingness to pause when something piques their interest, and their apparent curiosity about the world around them could make them models for travelers of every sort.

White-faced ibis (Plegadis chihi) stop at a local ditch for a little refreshment

When circumstances demand a little Point-A-to-Point-B flying, ibis can take to the skies in a flash. But if it’s a lazy afternoon, with nothing on the agenda and no demands to be met, they seem happy to take the slow road. I’m glad for the reminder that we can do the same.

Comments always are welcome.